Digital radio at a critical stage
By Ben Fenton, Media Correspondent
Published: February 8 2008 19:35
Although there are almost as many shades of opinion on the future of digital radio as there are frequency bands, one contention likely to unite experts is that there is more bandwidth available than can usefully be filled. Even as the future of Digital One, owned by GCap and the infrastructure provider Arqiva, is under scrutiny, plans are being drawn up for a second national “multiplex” for the commercial sector, headed by Channel 4 Radio. “In an ideal world,” one chief executive told the FT, “they would merge the two together and it would fit pretty neatly. But that simply won’t happen in reality.”
All the uncertainty and a vortex of conflicting interests have simply amplified a debate on the future of digital radio – a technology that is being taken up much later in the day by consumers than digital television – and whether it is now at the brink of a “Freeview” moment of immense growth, or a “Betamax” moment of consumer abnegation.